Ex-soldier in court for mean thefts

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A FORMER soldier with gambling problems who stole from his girlfriend while she was recovering from a miscarriage has been given a fresh chance to go straight.

But James Lachowicz’s hopes of rejoining the Army look slim because the judge at Doncaster Crown Court gave him a suspended prison sentence.

The 21-year-old’s problems began after he applied to be discharged from the service in September last year but ended up sleeping rough, the court was told.

His first offence, a burglary committed in March, was perpetrated after he was walking round at night and found a house with a window open.

Lachowicz took a digital recorder, a wallet and two coats.

Iain Hillis, prosecuting, said the defendant’s partner spent a week in hospital after a miscarriage in June.

While she was away from home, he took about £1,000 worth of jewellery, DVDs and a cash card which he used to withdraw £70 from her account.

“A few days later, because he was homeless again because his partner didn’t want anything to do with him, he was taken in by a friend but stole a laptop, camera, jewellery, and a games console worth £3,500,” said Mr Hillis.

Lachowicz, now living in the M25 hostel in College Road, pleaded guilty to the burglary and two thefts.

His solicitor, Sarah Smith, said all the offences were committed following a breakdown in his life after being discharged from the Army.

“He had trouble finding accommodation and has now taken steps to address his gambling addiction. He acknowledges the mean-spiritedness of these offences.”

Miss Smith said he hoped to renew his Army career.

Sentencing him to nine months in prison suspended for two years, with 240 hours of unpaid community work, the judge, Recorder David Ake, told Lachowicz: “I hope this is your first and last court appearance. If you appear again you will go to prison. I am persuaded to suspend the sentence because of what is said on your behalf.”